The 37th Portland International Film Festival (PIFF 37) opens on February 6th with two films – THE WIND RISES, the final work from master animator Hayao Miyazaki, will screen at at OMSI and Cinema 21, and the critically-acclaimed feature BELLE, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Emily Watson, and Tom Wilkinson screens at the Whitsell Auditorium, located in the Portland Art Museum. The festival will run through the February 22nd, 2014.
This year’s Festival includes the return of the popular PIFF After Dark program, showcasing midnight movies like Ti West’s (THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL) THE SACRAMENT and Ari Folman’s (WALTZ WITH BASHIR) THE CONGRESS. Seven animated features on the lineup include THE APOSTLE, MY MOMMY IS IN AMERICA AND SHE MET BUFFALO BILL, and the latest film by Portland-born animator Bill Plympton, CHEATIN’. Other highlights of PIFF 37 include screenings of Tsai Ming-Liang’s (WHAT TIME IS IT OVER THERE?) STRAY DOGS, Rithy Panh’s THE MISSING PICTURE, Doug Pray’s (HYPE!) LEVITATED MASS, François Ozon’s (SWIMMING POOL) YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL, Jillian Schlesinger’s MAIDENTRIP, Alain Guiraudie’s STRANGER BY THE LAKE, Anthony Chen’s ILO ILO and Claude Lanzmann’s (SHOAH) THE LAST OF THE UNJUST.
THE WIND RISES
In THE WIND RISES, Miyazaki, co-founder of the legendary Studio Ghibli, eschewing his typically fictional characters ensconced in a fantasy world, instead brings to life the story of Jiro Horikoshi, visionary designer of one of history’s most beautiful airplanes—the prototype for the Zero WWII fighter. Adapted from Miyazaki’s own serialized manga, which was itself inspired by Tatsuo Hori’s 1937 story of the same name, this epic tale of love, invention, and hope spans decades, sweeping through great historical moments of 20th-century Japan. In what he has said is his last film, the winner of dozens of international awards, Miyazaki dazzles with his usual beautifully rendered flourishes, but this time exploring a grounded, evolved, and sophisticated nostalgia that is a fitting final celebration of art, science, and the impulse to create.
Often missing from the gorgeous settings, romances, and sophisticated language of English period dramas is the institution at the foundation of that refined life: slavery. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) lineage—the illegitimate, biracial daughter of a Royal Navy admiral in 18th-century Britain—affords her wealth and certain privileges, but the color of her skin keeps her on the outside looking in. Left to wonder if she will ever find love or acceptance, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England— and end her question, “How may I be too high in rank to dine with the servants but too low to dine with my family?”